Jen’s Dilemma

Since making the announcement that I would start designing for your spaces too, I have been up to my eyeballs in mood boards.  At first, I was worried that I would virtually design the same space over and over–but it has been quite the opposite.  I feel like I have really connected with so many spaces and readers and have been able to inject their personality in making a unified room.  I have worked with a $200 budget, an unlimited budget, an new unfinished build, a teeny tiny room, a mulit-use room, and more.  I have seen SO many different spaces and I have loved being involved with each one. Some of you have asked if I would be showing all the mood boards on the blog.  In short, there are far too many to share each separately, but, I thought it would be fun to peak in on one every once in awhile.  That being said, here’s one I finished earlier this week from reader, Jen.  
She says:

I’d like your help with my living room. It’s an awkward size and shape – 24′ x 12′ with a large window at one end and a sliding glass door at the other end. One of the long sides has an 11′ opening to the kitchen and a 7′ opening to the entry and railing, so there’s only 5′ of actual wall on that side of the room. Since the room is so long, I have it set up with about 2/3 for the “living” space and the other 1/3 for my little dining table. The ceiling is about 8′ high and there is no overhead lighting.

My style is Earthy Modern. I love clean lines and pretty much everything at West Elm, but I also like textures and grainy woods like teak or acacia to keep it from feeling too cold and stark.  See this print for my color inspiration:×7-fine-art-photo-print. 

Overall, the room just doesn’t feel put together – I keep adding things and don’t feel like I’m making progress, and I still have a lot of apartment/college furniture that I need to upgrade. I think a better plan is in order…that’s where you come in :) This is my only living/entertaining space since I don’t have a separate formal living room or finished basement. I’m open to DIYing anything and everything you can come up with. I’ve probably gone overboard with the details (I’m an engineer, I can’t help it!) but please let me know if there’s anything else you need. Thank you so much! 


Here’s what I came up with for Jen:

With the help of your inspiration photo (the peacock feather) I put together a few ideas that I think would work great in your room.

1. A dark, moody accent wall will really make the room spectacular. Try Underwater by Behr and reserve it for the wall behind your couch and extend it all the way to the dining room wall.

2. Above the couch, go for a monochromatic, oversized photo as art. Use this one as an inspiration and take one (or have a photographer friend take one) similar. I’ll link you to a great tutorial on a cheap way to blow up and hang photos.
Large photo found here.
DIY Large photo art tutorial here.

3. You said you like clean lines, which means your curvy end tables should go. I love these small ones from Ikea that double as storage.
End tables found here.

4. I don’t see anything wrong with your existing table lamps. From what I see in the photos, I really like the bases. Either paint the shades a warm teal color, or splurge on all new ones like I have pictured.
Lamps found here.

5. Ahh, the pillow round up. Pillows are going to do amazing things for your whole room. Mix and match patterns and colors. I have picked out a golden yellow, one with navys, a turquoise with bright green accents, a soft gray fox, a yellow-green print, and a bright orangey-floral.
Yellow found here.
Navy brush stroked pillow found here
Turquoise pom pom pillow found here
Fox pillow found here
Yellow-green print pillow found here
Orange Floral pillow found here

6. I mentioned an accent wall in number 1, but for the rest of your walls–I found a great warm gray like you suggested. See how Martha Stewart Sharkey Grey looks!

7. From the photos I see you are not afraid of an animal print. I would ditch the double Ikea rug and lay a large cowhide on a diagonal. There are tons of options:
One shown found here
Alternate here
And another here

8. I love the idea of a round, leather storage ottoman for this room. It will balance out all the square edges and provide plenty of extra storage for you.
Ottoman found here

9. To solve your TV situation, I’d go for a rustic-looking cart. Mount your tv, or set it on top and fill the shelves with baskets and a few other pictures in frames I see around the room.—even your inspiration photo would be a nice touch.
Console found here

10. As for the dining room side of things, I worked around your existing table because I thought it was nice! I’d start with some lighting since you don’t have any overhead. A great arc lamp can be tucked in the corner and still hang over the table.
Lamp found here

11. Underneath the table, define the space with this great, orange 5×7 area rug that’s less than $75!
Area rug found here

12. Instead of the curvy console table you currently have, scour craigslist for a great dresser to use in its place. Store spare dishes, wine and on top display a beautiful bowl of lemons or oranges.
Crazy expensive dresser found here

13. Above that dresser (on the accent wall), hang dishes. Collect them from thrift stores, check out Pier one, and even go for a couple woven bowls like the one I included.
Inspiration photo found here
Woven decorative bowl found here

The only other suggestion I have is to paint the frame of your chair in the living room (next to the plant) orange. It will really tie things together and provide a great pop! I hope you find great inspiration from this mood board and I can’t wait to see where you end up. 

Who’s next?!  For more information, check out our mood board page here, or
Email your submission to


  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Jessie McKinley

    I love how thorough you are with everything! And I love what you’ve suggested. Great job!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Lexy @ The Proper Pinwheel

    You can create a moodboard for me anytime, girl.

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    I really like the arc lamp and that dining area rug is so bright and fun!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia

    Great idea!! Chris is the coding mastermind behind this operation, I’ll run it past him. Thanks! :)

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Laura @ DMHB

    I love the mood board posts! If you can’t make a blog post about each one, maybe make them a part of your site where users can browse them even without breakdowns? Like an image gallery :)

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    Wow, it’s kinda weird to see my house on someone’s blog :) I did some shopping this weekend and picked up a few items that you suggested. I can’t wait for it all to come together!

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    Love the design, great job!!

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